Richard: “What are you talking about son? You are saying my wife molests you sexually?”
Sammy: “Yes dad she does and she told me not to tell you otherwise she’d put the blame of Annie’s disappearance on me and make all my friends in school abandon me”
Richard: “Shut up boy!” he roared. “Do you even know what you are talking about?”
Sammy: “But I am really saying the truth dad. She is a monster, she even sleeps with women” as soon as he had said this, his dad stood up and landed him another slap across the face which landed him on his back on the bed.
Ophelia, who had been standing by the door unspotted by the two ran into the room and helped Sammy up.
Sammy: “I said don’t touch me, what part of don’t touch me do you not understand?” he said in between sobs.
Ophelia: “Why did you slap him like that Richie?” she feigned annoyance.
Richard: “If only you heard all the things this stupid boy said about you, you wouldn’t be there by his side”
Ophelia: “Really? What did he say I did?”
Richard: “He said you are a child molester, that you have been having intercourse with him. He also said you are a lesbian. Can you imagine that kind of utterance? I really can’t have him continue disrespecting you like this, I have to discipline him”
Ophelia: “He said all those? Wow!” she used her left hand to cover her mouth and pretended to be really short of words.
Richard: “Yes! Can you see now? This boy has been sent from the pit of hell to torment my life”
Ophelia: “Please calm down okay? The most important thing is you not believing him. Just imagine how it would have been if you did believe him. Let’s forgive him okay? He is just being delusional and naïve. He hates me and he lets that cloud his sense of judgement but its fine. I am not taking any offence. I have gotten used to his taunts and disrespect anyway”
Richard: “Can you hear that dumbass? She is even pleading on your behalf. A woman who has been here to take care of you ever since your mum died. How can you level such grave accusations at her?”
Sammy: “Daddy I cannot believe you can be this easy to play. How did mum ever get to live with you for so many years? You are a coward, I will say it again, you are indeed a weakling” he said and made to walk away but his dad drew him back furiously and started hitting him with his fist. Ophelia tried to stop him but he was unstoppable. “Dad…dad” he kept calling as he kept dealing him blows upon blows.
Richard: “Inshort, this will not do” he said breathlessly. “Now be on your knees, I have to leave scars on your body so next time you think it’s okay to insult me or my wife, the scar will deter you. Sammy knelt down obediently as the pains from his dad’s blows seeped into his inner being. “Now close your eyes” he ordered as he looked around for something he could use on him. He saw his belt lying on the floor and picked it up. He flogged him mercilessly with the belt not minding the boy’s pleas and the blood that stained his white singlet.
Sammy rolled on the floor as the lashes tore his skin.  Ophelia could not hold it anymore, she went and covered Sammy and two lashes landed on her too. Richard threw the belt away and walked briskly out of the room.
Ophelia: “Are you okay Sammy?” she asked trying to get him to stand up.
Sammy: “When you do this, people might actually start thinking you really love me” he said weakly as he staggered to his feet, went over to his wardrobe, pulled out a shirt and put it on.
Ophelia: “Where do you think you are going to by this time? It is 1a.m for Chrissake!” she said when he started walking out.
Sammy: “Don’t even try stopping me, except you want to see me dead” he said and kept walking. Ophelia ran to their room…
Ophelia: “Richie, he is leaving the house” she said but he ignored her. “Richie can’t you hear me? I said Sammy is leaving the house by this time”
Richard: “Let him leave. He has nowhere to go to so he will be back. Don’t disturb me please”
She shook her head and ran back to the sitting room but he was gone. She ran out of the gate but couldn’t sight him still.
Ralph: “Today makes it the third week Annie has been on break and we haven’t really done anything for her. What do you guys suggest we get for her?” he asked looking at his two friends who were busy playing game on their 20”LED TV.  Ewa was helping Annie with her assignments in her room.
Paul: “Yes! Yes! Ronaldo run on my nigga. Yes! It’s a gooooal… should we go again” he said looking triumphantly at Dickson.
Dickson: “That was just sheer luck, oya let’s play again, I will make you eat sand this time around”
Ralph: “I am talking to you guys na.  you’ve been playing that game since you woke up and its way past  morning already”
Paul: “Ralph this is weekend mehn! Let us play play play and keep playing jare. Very soon it will be Monday. What were you even saying sef?” he finally gave him his attention, pausing the game they just started playing.
Ralph: “I said what should we get for Annie for performing so excellently in her exams? She will be resuming school next week you know?”
Dickson: “Let’s ask her.  She must have forgotten about seeing her mum by now?”
Ralph: “Annie love!” he called loudly.
Annie: “Yes 1st daddy!” she answered and went skipping into the sitting room.
Ralph: “School will be resuming soon. What do you want us to get for you?”
Annie: “I don’t want anything 1st daddy” she looked down sullenly.
Dickson: “Okay what do you want us to do for you?”
She looked up happily and gave him a thumb up…
Annie: “3rd daddy is smart. What I want you to do for me is this: take me to Lagos, I want to visit the beach. All my friends in school have been there before, remaining only me”
Paul: “Well that is very simple. Then when do we go guys?” he asked looking away from Annie to study his friends’ expressions.
Ralph: “We can even go today. Lagos is just two hours’ drive away, if we leave now, we can reach there by 3pm, book two rooms in a hotel in Lekki then proceed to the beach. We will be back home tomorrow evening. Is that cool by you?”
Annie: “So we are going today?”
Paul: “Yes baby!”
Annie: “Yeeeeeeeahhhh!” she jumped up and down. “2nd daddy, you know fashion very well even more than aunty Ewa, please come and dress me up and I want to wear that my round cap the way they use to in the movies when they are at the beach. I will also ride a horse with my daddies. Aunty Ewa will help me hold my shoes” she counted her fingers for each of her plans giggling from ears to ears.
Paul: “Oh God! Our baby is a bundle of joy. I can’t believe we almost handed her over to the orphanage” he muttered to himself. “Okay let’s go and get you ready sweetie” he said and led her away from the rest holding her tiny hand.
It had been two weeks since he left home. He walked as far away from home as his legs could carry him. He looked even lankier than ever since he could not even get himself to beg for food or money from passers-by. Only the very good Samaritans saw him and give him some money, some people gave him food. At some point, whenever he got to a place, someone would look at him and act like they recognized him that was how he got to know his dad must have gone to the media to get their help in locating him. But he didn’t want to be found, anytime anyone recognised him and do as if they wanted to make a call, he would quickly leave that vicinity and run as far as he could. He was nursing a very deep wound in his heart that even time had not been able to heal.
He found himself in Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun state. He found some other homeless boys whom he moved with. They slept under the stairs of Sandhurst hotel not far from Olumo rock. In the mornings, they would all go out except Sammy who only roamed around and only got lucky once in a while when people dashed him stuffs and food. Sometimes his friends would refuse to give him what they brought in because he wouldn’t work with them, he slept hungry most nights.
After having fun at the lekki beach the next day, they got ready to go back to Ibadan but it seemed too early.
Paul: “Annie hon, did you enjoy yourself last night?”
Annie: “Yes 2nd daddy. I wish we didn’t have to leave yet” she said with a sad look. “The water tasted like salt, do they put salt inside it every day?” she asked brightening up all of a sudden while Ewa laughed out loud.
Ralph: “Come this lady, why are you laughing at our baby? You want to be sacked?

Ëwa: “Ah! Sorry o. e ma binu” she said jokingly.
Paul: “That’s the way it tastes my dear. It is called salt water. Infact I could say we get our salts from there. So is there any other place you want to go to?”
Annie: “Yes! Yes!! Yes!!!” she jumped up in Pauls arms.
Paul: “Where?”
Annie: “Olumo Rock” she said giggling from ears to ears while they exchanged looks.
Dickson: “You guys are spoiling this girl o. continue”
Paul: “Let us spoil her very well. As long as she is not ill-mannered, then we are good. Ralph how far? Shall we go? Besides I’ve always wanted to see olumo rock”
Ewa: “Please let’s go. I want to see Olumo Rock too” she said clasping her hands together excitedly.
Ralph: “Okay o…what can I do when the ladies have agreed?”
He turned when he heard the cry of thief! Thief!! Thief!!! And realised they were running towards him. They had in their hands sticks of different sizes and shapes. He was confused and turned to run away but someone knocked him down from the back. He fell face down on the floor and before he could open his mouth to say he was not a thief, the mob was already around him, they lifted their sticks up and landed him blows one after the other. He lifted his hands…
Sammy: “What did I do wrong? I am not a thief, it’s not me. I am not the one” he cried as blows landed on his body and he shielded his face with his hands.


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